The Gymnasticon

Here’s a surprisingly modern-looking exercise machine from 1796. Essentially it’s a set of flywheels turned by hand cranks and foot treadles; Francis Lowndes said he patented it “to give and apply motion and exercise, voluntary or involuntary, to the limbs, joints, and muscles of the human body.”

He claimed he’d successfully used it to treat gout, palsy, rheumatism, debility, and contraction, but he said it would be equally useful for healthy people in sedentary occupations, according to the Monthly Magazine: “The merchant, without withdrawing his attention from his accounts, and the student, while occupied in writing or reading, may have his lower limbs kept in constant motion by the slightest exertion, or by the assistance of a child.”